Chris Slee

A sign reading “Moreland City Council welcomes refugees and asylum seekers” has been erected outside the council's office in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg, on July 4. The motion to install the sign was moved by Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, and passed council vote on May 8. The council also committed support to the World Refugee Day rally in Melbourne, which called for an end to mandatory detention and deportations, and the closure of Nauru and Manus Island detention camps.
The Victorian government's Fire Services Levy was introduced on July 1. It replaces the original levy, which was deducted from insurance premiums, and now collects funds from all property holders along with council rates. The original levy was introduced in 2009 to pay for implementing the recommendations of the 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission.
More than 200 pensioners rallied on the steps of Victoria’s parliament house on July 10. The rally was called by the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition, which has a list of demands on the state and federal governments. Their demands on the federal government include a pension rise from 27.7% of average weekly earnings to 35%; improved healthcare measures, including medical, dental, optical, hearing, pharmaceutical and culturally appropriate services; and more funding for aged care services.
Protests by local people forced the abandonment of a plan to train Sri Lankan military officers at India’s Defence Services Staff College in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India. The Times of India said at least two towns in Nilgiris were shut down by a strike on June 24 in protest at the plan. The Indian government then offered to train the Sri Lankan officers elsewhere in India, but the Sri Lankan government turned the offer down.
Moreland City Council has voted to accept an offer from the Victorian government to fund the installation of CCTV cameras on Sydney Road in Brunswick. The offer was made following the rape and murder of Brunswick resident Jill Meagher in a side street near Sydney Road last year. Three councillors voted against the decision: Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, and Greens councillors Samantha Ratnam and Lenka Thomson.
More than 800 people rallied in Thellippazhai on April 29, a town in the north of the island of Sri Lanka. They marched towards the entrance of a nearby military zone. The Tamilnet website said the rally organisers had been warned by police that a march would not be permitted, but rally participants spontaneously decided to march regardless. They were blocked from reaching the military zone by the army and police. They were protesting against the confiscation of their land by the Sri Lankan army.
About 50 people attended a community safety forum organised by Moreland City Council on April 24. The forum was organised as part of the debate about how to make the streets safer following the murder of Jill Meagher last year. The state government’s proposal to fund installation of CCTV cameras on Moreland streets was controversial. It was strongly advocated by Moreland Mayor Oscar Yildiz, and supported by federal Labor MP Kelvin Thomson and state Labor MP Jane Garrett.
A mob led by Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka attacked a clothing shop owned by Muslims in March, setting fire to clothes while police looked on. The attack on the Fashion Bug shop in Pepiliyana, a suburb of Colombo, followed the spreading of a false rumour that a Sinhala Buddhist employee had been raped by a Muslim employee on the premises.
An armed squad stormed the main office of Uthayan, a Tamil language daily newspaper published in the city of Jaffna in Sri Lanka's north, At 4.45am on April 13. The attackers set fire to the printing presses and copies of the paper that were ready for distribution. The Tamilnet website said the squad was believed to be operated by Sri Lankan military intelligence. Jaffna, like other Tamil areas, is under military rule. The attack is the fourth this year against Uthayan, which is owned by Tamil National Alliance (TNA) member of parliament E. Saravanapavan.
The state assembly of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has passed a resolution calling for a United Nations-supervised referendum on independence for the Tamils of Sri Lanka. This follows a month-long wave of mass actions throughout Tamil Nadu, initiated by students but drawing in broader sections of the population. The Tamil Nadu protesters want the Indian government to raise a similar resolution at the United Nations. The students are planning to launch a civil disobedience campaign if the Indian government does not act on their demands.

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